Q & A

James Aylward says he has experience to lead P.E.I. PC Party

James Aylward is hoping his second shot at the leadership of the P.E.I. Progressive Conservative Party is successful.

'I've got a huge amount of support from my caucus and from Islanders'

James Aylward, MLA for District 6, is taking a second run at leadership of the P.E.I. Progressive Conservative party. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

James Aylward is hoping his second shot at the leadership of the P.E.I. Progressive Conservative Party is successful.

"I wouldn't be putting my name forward if I didn't think I had a chance of winning this," he said.

The MLA for District 6, Stratford - Kinlock, says the time was right for him to step forward to take the lead, take direction and make things better for all Islanders.

"We do have a dynamic team now with eight great MLAs and I can only see the future brighter with more people coming forward to run for our party."  

Rival candidate Brad Tivers was profiled by CBC on Oct. 10. The leadership vote takes place Oct. 14, Oct. 17 and Oct. 20 and only party members are allowed to vote.  

CBC: What's your core vision for the party?

JA: Well, my core vision for the party would be to give government back to Islanders and I say that by meaning — and truly meaning, unlike the current government — being open and transparent. 

I have a couple of examples of how I've already shown that but I think it's important to put the faith back into Islanders with regards to their elected officials. There's a lot of cynicism that has creeped up over the last few years with a lot of the files that have taken place and what they've seen with government and backroom deals. It's time to get past that and work for the people rather than work for yourselves and your friends.

CBC: What would be your priority if elected?

JA: The very first thing I would do, obviously is bring together my caucus and the executive of the party to plan a focus moving forward. I've already stated some of my immediate goals will be to have elected school boards here on P.E.I.

I'd also like to see regional health authorities brought back into P.E.I. so that we can strengthen our rural communities especially around education and health because I think those two components are so integral to the well being in particular, our rural communities.

CBC: Where do you stand on mental health and what would you like to see done?

JA: I think if anybody would have followed my political career over the last six years in particular, they'll know I'm one of the strongest advocates for mental health and addictions here on P.E.I. There's not a session goes by that I don't raise particular issues around it but I've also been the health critic since 2011...I've been on the forefront of bring what I call a crisis forward.

Unlike the minister, I think we are in a crisis situation right now especially with mental health here on P.E.I.

CBC: How do we attract and recruit more psychiatrists?

JA: I think we need to listen to people like Dr. Heather Kaizer...she's been very vocal...and more or less challenged the authority of the government. I respect that. I think we need to look at the experts within the mental health field and take their advice and move forward with that.

CBC: Brad Tivers - has not disagreeing much with him hurt you?

JA: No, I don't think so all. Brad was one of my strong team members in the last leadership campaign. He's a seatmate in the Legislative Assembly...I have the utmost respect for Brad...he's somewhat new to this work. He's got some varying ideas than I do, whether it's the education field, whether it's how we dispense marijuana here on P.E.I.

CBC: That's going to be a big issue going forward.

JA: It's definitely going to be a big one and it's going to be a big one for many reasons whether it's looking at taxes, whether it's looking at health care or whether it's looking at policing here on P.E.I.  

CBC: Why should people vote for you as leader?

JA: I bring a lot to to the table with my experience. I am a born and raised Islander...I've sat in the Legislative Assembly for six years. I've got a huge amount of support from my caucus and from Islanders from one end of the Island to the other.